Sunday, January 30, 2011

Books I just picked up to review-stay tuned :)

Phantom of the Opera
Author: Gaston Leroux

The Lincoln Lawyer
Author: Michael Connelly

All Through the Night
Author: Suzanne Brockmann

Lush Life
Author: Richard Price

Beautiful Boy
Author: David Sheff

Shanghai Girls
Author: Lisa See

The Christmas Sweater
Author: Glenn Beck

The Orchid Thief
Author: Susan Orlean

Switching Time
Author: Richard Baer

The Gift

The Gift
Author: Richard Paul Evans
Read by: John Dosset
5 discs ( 5.25 hours)

Nathan Hurst hates Christmas. For others, it may be a day of boundless joy and nostalgic tradition.  But for him, this annual occasion is a painful reminder of events that traumatized his childhood.  When a snowstorm cancels his flight, Nathan meets a unique mother and child who profoundly change him and his view of the special season-forever. 

Personal Notes: This was the first novel I read by this author.  When picking up "The Gift" and "Finding Noel"  I thought they would both be Christmas themed books, they aren't though-its a very small part of whats going on in both books.  I fell in love with the characters in this book and routing them on while despising the ones who were against them.  Its an intense book about a boy with a special "gift" of healing people, although every time he heals someone the boy gets sicker.  The main character in this book also has Tourette's Syndrome, something the author is writing about as he has it as well in real life.  Both of the books I've read by him are fictionalized but has a piece of the author in it which is special because its an insight and feelings that he writes about and knows all about because he has lived it; it reminds me alot of why I enjoy Michael Connelly books-who writes a very different type of book but uses his experiences of  being a journalist writing for the "Crime Beat" where the fiction stories these authors write also seem to have an essence of nonfiction because they are writing these great stories about something they personally know so much about.

Finding Noel

Finding Noel
Author: Richard Paul Evans
Read by: Richard Paul Evans
4 discs (approx 4.75 hours)

Mark Smart is miserable-and his mother reently passed away, his girlfriend dumped him, he lost the funding from  his college scholarship, and his car just broke down in a blinding blizzard.  Slogging thru the snow to a nearby coffee house, he meets Macy-his angel of mercy.  Abandoned by her parents at the age of seven, Macy's only connection to her family is a single Christmas ornament.  With Mark's help she is determined to find the sister she believes she has lost. 

Personal notes:  I loved this book, Richard Paul Evans always has inspirational stories.  He wrote this book for his mother who had recently passed away at the time he was writing this book, and even though this is a fictional story, it is based on  a true life story of one of his personal assistants Celeste Edmunds who had just started looking for her sister who was taken from her at the age of  8.  This book is read by the author, which I love when the authors read their own books. 

If you like this book or the author check out some of his other novels:


Author: Sapphire
Read by: Bahni Turpin
4 discs (5 hours 5 mins)

Precious Jones, an illiterate sixteen-year-old, has up unitl now been invisible to the father who rapes her, the mother who batters her, and to the authorities who dismiss her as jsut one o fHarlem's casualties.  But when Precious, pregnant with a second child by her father, meets a determined and radical teacher, we follow her on a journey of education and enlightenment as she learns not only how to write about her life, but how to make it truly her own for the first time.

My personal Review:  This book is excellent But it is very blunt and written exactly like whatever the author thought was written down in the book, expletives and all.  If I had read this vs. listening to it, im not sure that I would have been able to finish it because of the manner of which it is written.

If you liked the book check out the movie:

Saturday, January 22, 2011

True Believer

True Believer
By: Nicholas Sparks
Read by:  David Aaron Baker
9 discs (approx 10 hours)

Jeremy Marsh is the ultimate New Yorker: handsome, almost always dressed in black, and part of the media elite. An expert on debunking the supernatural with a regular column in "Scientific American," he's just made his first appearance on national TV. When he receives a letter from the tiny town of Boone Creek, North Carolina, about ghostly lights that appear in a legend-shrouded cemetery, he can't resist driving down to investigate. Here, in this tightly knit community, Lexie Darnell runs the town's library, just as her mother did before the accident that left Lexie an orphan. Disappointed by past relationships, including one that lured her away from home, she is sure of one thing: her future is in Boone Creek, close to her grandmother and all the other people she loves. Jeremy expects to spend a quick week in "the sticks" before speeding back to the city. But from the moment he sets eyes on Lexie, he is intrigued and attracted to this beautiful woman who speaks with a soft drawl and confounding honesty. And Lexie, while hesitating to trust this outsider, finds herself thinking of Jeremy more than she cares to admit. Now, if they are to be together, Jeremy Marsh must make a difficult choice: return to the life he knows, or do something he's never done before--take a giant leap of faith. A story about taking chances and following your heart, True Believer will make you, too, believe in the miracle of love.

Personal Notes:  I'm a fan of any Nicholas Sparks Novel so if you like his other books you will not be disappointed with True Believer.  Easy to get right into this story and you will not want to put it down once you start reading.  Its got all the enchantment of finding love, characters you want to route for, and findin out the mystery behind the "unknown lights" that brings Jerermy to the small town to write an article on. 


By: Suzanne Brockmann
Read by: Traci Svendsgaard
5 discs (approx 5 hours)

When Kayla Grey travels from Boston to Montana, the last place she expects to end up is huddled beneath a blanket of dirt in the middle of a fierce snowstorm. And the last person she expects to rescue her is the very man she’d come to find. Cal Bartlett was a true-blue cowboy, complete with a horse, and the most amazing eyes Kayla had ever seen. He was also the brother of the man who’d wanted to marry her. But she didn’t discover that until it was too late–after they’d kissed by a roaring fire and Kayla felt a desire she’d never known.

Cal didn't know how to handle th enews Kayla brought with her-that his dead broher mightnot be dead after all.  He couldn't imagine why he was being tested in this way, irresistibly drawn to the woman his brother had loved.  Torn between guilt and longing, Cal prayed that wanting this woman wouldn't mean losing his brother once again.

Personal Notes:  I really enjoyed this Romance Suspense novel,  its just the right mix of new romance and suspense in one good quick read.  Its a good twist that the "dead" brother that they both lost as a friend and as Cal's brother is the one that brings them togethr to try to save his life if he may be still alive. 

Revolutionary Road

Revolutionary Road
Author: Richard Yates
Read by: Mark Bramhall
9 discs ( approx 11 hours)

In the hopeful 1950s, Frank and April Wheeler appear to be a model couple: bright, beautiful, talented, with two young children and a starter home in the suburbs.  Perhaps they married too young and started a family too early.  Maybe Frank's job is dull.  And April never saw herself as a housewife.  Yet they always lived on the assumption that greatness is only just around the corner.  But now that certaintly is about to crumble. 

Personal Notes: One word-Disappointed! Although I enjoy the drama in a good Lifetime movie-this movie was just depressing and dragged out.   I kept listening waiting for it to get better-expecting it to after the reviews of the back of the book and knowing that it had been made into a movie with Leonardo DiCaprio (who is usually in pretty good movies i think)  characters are not very likeable however and essentially what the book is is two people who got married when they shouldn't have and live out an unhappy marriage.

We Are All Welcome Here

We Are All Welcome Here
By: Elizabeth Berg
Read by: Elizabeth Berg
5 discs (approx 6 hours of listening)

It is the summer of 1964.  In Tupelo, Mississippi, tensions are mounting over civil-rights demonstrations occurring ever more frequently.  But in Paige Dunn's small, ramshackle house, there are more immediate concerns.  Challenged by the effect of polio, Paige is nonetheless determined to live as normal a life as possible and to raise her daughter, Diana, in the way she sees fit-with the support of her tough-talking black caregiver, Peacie.

As a fourteen-year-old, Diana wants to make money for clothes and magazines, to slough of the authority of her mother and Peacie, to figure out the puzzle tha tis boys, and to escape the oppressiveness she sees everywhere in her small town.  What she can never escape, however, is the her life is markedly different from others.  Nor can she escape her ongoing responsibility to assist in caring for her mother.  Paige Dunn is attractive, charming, intelligent, and lively, but her needs are great-and relentless.

As the summer unfolds, hate and adversity will visit this modest home.  Each of the women will find her own path to independence, understanding, and peace. And Diana's mother, so mightily compromised, will end up giving her daughter an extraordinary gift few parents could match. 

Personal Notes:  I absolutely loved this book!!  This book was inspired by a fan letter to the author who wanted her story written althought this book has been fictionalized.  This book is an emotional rollercoaster that deals with the hardships of the racial issues that were going on during the 60's,  raising a teenage daughter, finding love, good friendships, poverty, and living with a huge handicap.  I couldnt put this book down...good short read.  Also love it when authors read their own books as is done with this book.

Dear American Airlines

Dear American Airlines
By: Jonathan Miles
Read by Mark Bramhall
6 discs (approx 7 hours)

Bennie Ford is traveling to his estranged daughter's wedding when his flight is canceled.  Stuck with thousands of passengers at O'Hare airport, hewatches the clock tick and realizes he will miss the ceremony.  Frusterated, irate, and helpless, he starts a letter.  But what beginas as a hilariously excoriating demand for a refund soon becomes the cri de coeur of a life misspent, of talent wasted.  His letter is a marvel of lacerating wit, heart-on-sleeve emotion, and wide-ranging erudition, penned with the fading hope that if he can just make it to the wedding, he has a chance to do something right in his life. 

Personal notes:  When picking out this book I thought it would be more of a book based on agony and hilarious plots and annoyances that happen when a flight is delayed and all the craziness attached with it in how it would affect your travel plans-this book is probably 30% where he is annoyed at the airlines and about 70% reflecting on his past and regrets he has as a results of decisions he has made in his life.  The story is him sitting at the airport writing this refund letter to the airlines and gets into his personal life as well in the letter-it is sad, witty, and hilarious.  Mark Bramhall the narrator of this book is excellent as well.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

The Pleasure Of My Company

The Pleasure of My Company
Author: Steve Martin
Read by: Steve Martin
4 discs (approx 4 hours)

Daniel lives his life as a bystander, watching the world go by from his Santa Monica apartment, passing time idly.  His only relationships seem to be with people who barely know he exists.  It is only when he meets Clarissa and Teddy that he gains the courage to begin to engage the world outside, and in doing so, he discovers more than he ever imagined. 

Personal notes:
I was suprised when I saw Actor Steve Martin as the author of this book; great actor wasn't as sure as him as a author; however I was pleasantly suprised!  I want to check his debut book Shopgirl: A Novella.
I love the main character, Daniel a nice guy who struggles with phobias of simple things such as stepping off a curb and the wattage of  lightbulbs in his house yet is an extreme  math wizard highly intelligent.  This book kindve reminds me of Seinfeld in-a-way with the random day to day thoughts he has.  When he enters a sweepstakes to write "Why he is the most average American" he becomes a finalist, and despite his life that is not what one would think of as "average", you really do feel he is, as he helps out the other characters in the book that also have their own issues-you realize we are all average as we all have our own problems. 

A Walk to Remember

A Walk to Remember
By Nicholas Sparks
Read by Frank Muller
4 discs

Every April, when the wind blows from the sea and mingles with the scent of lilacs, Landon Carter remembers his last year at Beaufort High. It was 1958, and Landon had already dated a girl or two. He even swore that he had once been in love. Certainly the last person in town he thought he'd fall for was Jamie Sullivan, the daughter of the town's Baptist minister. A quiet girl who always carried a Bible with her schoolbooks, Jamie seemed content living in a world apart from the other teens. She took care of her widowed father, rescued hurt animals, and helped out at the local orphanage. No boy had ever asked her out. Landon would never have dreamed of it. Then a twist of fate made Jamie his partner for the homecoming dance, and Landon Carter's life would never be the same. Being with Jamie would show him the depths of the human heart and lead him to a decision so stunning it would send him irrevocably on the road to manhood...

Personal notes: I LOVE Nicholas Sparks but the Reader of this book, Frank Muller was not a good fit at all for this book.  Slow talking and far too dramatic; it seemed every sentence spoken there was dramatic pause...I had to turn it off.  I will just watch the movie or look for a different reader if they ever republish this.

Dry. A Memoir.

Dry. A Memoir.
by: Augusten Burroughs
Read by Author
7 discs

You may not know it, but you've met Augusten Burroughs.  You've seen him on the streen in bars, on the subway, at restaurants:  a twenty-something guy, nice suit, works in advertising.  Regular. Ordinary.  But when the ordinary person had two drinks, Augusten was circling the drain by having twelve; when the ordinary person went home at midnight, Augusten never went home at all.  Loud, distracting ties, automated wake-up calls, and cologne on the tongue could only hide so much for so long.  At the request (well, it wasn't really a request) of his employers, Augusten lasnds in rehab, where his dreams of group therapy with Robert Downy, Jr. are immediately dashed by the grim reality of fluoresent lighting and paper hospital slippers.  But when Augusten is forced to examine himself in the worst trouble of all.  Because when his thirty days are up, he has to return funny, as heartbreaking as it is real.  Dry is the story of love, loss and Starbucks as a higher power.

Personal Notes: The author, Augusten Burroughs is the author of Running with Scissors: A Memoir, Magical Thinking: True Stories, and Possible Side Effects all of which have been New York Times bestsellers.  He is names one of the fifteen funniest people in America by Entertainment Weekly and his sense of humor definately comes out in this book.  I picked up this book and thought it might be a bit depressing considering the subject but it definately suprised me -I love the way he wrote this and perhaps since the author is reading the book of his story it helps to picture all the events in the book just as he meant them to be read. 

Monday, January 10, 2011

The Art of Mending

The Art of Mending
Author: Elizabeth Berg
read by: Joyce Bean
6 discs (6 hours of listening)

It begins with the sudden revelation of astonishing secrets-secrets that have shaped the personalities and fates of three siblings, and now threaten to tear them apart.  In renowned authoer Elizabeth Berg's moving new novel, unearthed truths force one seemingly ordinary family to reexamine their disparate lives and to ask themselves: Is it too late to mend the hurts of the past?

Laura Bartone anticipates her annual family reunion in Minnesota with a mixture of excitement and wariness.  Yet this year's gathering will prove to be much more trying than either she or her siblings imagined.  As soon as she arrives, Laura realizes that something is not right with her sister.  Forever wrapped up in events of long ago, Caroline is the family's restless black sheep.  When aroline confronts Laura and thier brother, Steve, with devatating allegations about their mother, the three have a difficult time reconciling their varying experiences in the same house.  But a sudden misfortune will lead them all to face the past, their own culpability, and their common need for love and forgiveness.

Personal Notes:
This is a good book that deals with a girl who's mother abused her-with that being said it is said to see the affects it had on her years later.  Its a good story to see how someone can confront their issues to get past them.  I enjoy Elizabeth Berg's novels but this book had a sad feel to it the whole book whereas In Elizabeth Berg's book "Open House" it was a divorce situation but it was more calming and uplifting as the woman got thru the turmoil of the divorce.

I, Alex Cross

I, Alex Cross
By James Patterson
Read by Tim Cain and Michael Cerveris
6 discs (approx 7 hours)

Detective Alex Cross once again is tracking down a deranged killer...this time the killer has killed Alex's niece who worked as a high-end call girl for many high profile people.  With Alex trying to uncover who is the killer he himself may be in grave danger as this person has no end to connections including "good guys" who's job it is to cover this huge scandal.

Personal notes:  I love the Alex Cross series-read many and havent had a single one be a disappointing read yet.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

The Summons

The Summons
Author: John Grisham
Read by Michael Beck
8 discs (approx 9 hours of listening)

Judge Atlee has been a powerhouse in local politics and law in his hometown of Clanton, Mississippi for over forty years.  But he is dying, and has turned into a recluse.  He has summoned his two boys, Ray and Forrest, home to discuss his estate before he dies.  Ray is a good son, recently divorced, a professor of law at the University of Virginia.  Forrest is a black sheep to end all black sheep.  Forrest doesn't show up at the appointed time, and Ray himself is too late.  His father has died before any discussion could take place, and Ray is left knowing a shocking secret that he hopes only he knows.  But someone else might.

Personal notes:  I am really enjoying this Grisham novel,  Some of Grisham's  law novels are more involved with the cases/trial etc end of it and others have more solid foundation for establishing great characters and backstory versus being in the courtroom for the majority of the book---this is the case in this novel.  The setting is Mississippi so when characters are speaking in the book there is a Southern drawl-the reader, Michael Beck does an excellent job reading this book--Very easy to get into this book from the very beginning. 

Open House

Open House
Author: Elizabeth Berg
Read by: Becky Baker
6 disc (approx 7 hours)

In this superb novel by the New York Times bestselling author of "Talk Before Sleep", a woman re-creates her life after divorce by opening up her house and her heart. 

Samantha Morrow's husband has left her, and now she must strive to reconstruct a life for herself and her 11-year-old son.  Her eccentric mother tries to help by fixher her up with dates, but a more pressing problem is money.  To meet her mortgage paments, Sam decides to take in boarders.  A new friend suggests that Samantha get out, get going, get work.  But her real work is this: In order to emerge from grief and the past, she has to learn how to make her own happiness.  And in order to know who she is, she has to remember -and reclaim-the person she used to be, long before  she became someone else in an effort to save her marriage.  Open House is the unforgettable story of how a woman re-creates her life after divorce by opening her house to strangers and her heart to the simple miracle of possibility.

Personal notes:  I absolutely loved this book! I was not real familiar with the author but saw on the jacket that it is in Oprah's Book Club so gave it a try and so glad I did! While the plot sounds sort of depressing it is truly inspirational as this woman who feels the rug has been pulled out beneath her manages to keep suprising herself with what she is able to do on her own; she had never tried because she had never had to.  Its funny at times, sad at times,  but when listening you keep wanting to root her on.  The narrator of this book is great as well. 

Saturday, January 1, 2011

The Concrete Blonde

The Concrete Blonde
Author: Michael Connelly
Read by: Dick Hill
12 discs (13 hours)

The Dollmaker was the name of the serial killer who had stalked Los Angeles ruthlessly, leaving grisly calling cards on the faces of his victoms.  Now, with a single faultless shot, Detective Harry Bosch thinks he has ented the city's nightmare.

But the dead man's widow is suing Harry and the LAPD for killing the wrong man--an accusation that rings terrifyingly true when a new victim is discovered with the Dollmaker;s macabre signature.

So, for the second time, Harry must hunt down a death-dealer who is very much alive, before he strikes again.  It's a blood-tracked quest that will take Harry from the hard edges of the L.A. night to the last place he ever wanted to go--the darkness of his own heart.

Personal notes:
Harry Bosch the main character is a character in many of Michael Connelly's novels--Dick Hill (the reader) does a great job reading this character!  I love all the Harry Bosch series-One of the best detective series I have come across.